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Jung Ho-yeon of 'Squid Game' breakout actress with decadelong career in fashion industry

Movies 15:48 February 28, 2022

SEOUL, Feb. 28 (Yonhap) -- Jung Ho-yeon surely is a lucky actor as she has risen to global stardom and secured a major acting award from the U.S. film industry for her acting debut role in the hit Netflix series "Squid Game."

She won the prize for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series at the 28th U.S. Screen Actors Guild Awards, in Santa Monica on Sunday (U.S. time).

In "Squid Game," she played North Korean defector Sae-byeok, who participates in the deadly contest to earn prize money of 45.6 billion won (US$37.8 million) in order to rescue her parents across the North Korean border and buy a house for her family.

Sae-byeok is a person who seems to be wary of people in the beginning but gradually develops faith in them. Many critics said Jung's mysterious image and unique voice were a heavenly match for the defector role.

But the 27-year-old breakout actress actually is a veteran in the fashion industry, having worked for over a decade as a model.

In this Reuters photo, South Korean actress Jung Ho-yeon poses with her award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series at the 28th U.S. Screen Actors Guild Awards on Feb. 27, 2022. (Yonhap)

In this Reuters photo, South Korean actress Jung Ho-yeon poses with her award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series at the 28th U.S. Screen Actors Guild Awards on Feb. 27, 2022. (Yonhap)

She began her career as a model when she attended high school and rose to fame after finishing as a runner-up in season 4 of the local TV competition show "Korea's Next Top Model." She has since been working overseas, appearing in commercials and fashion shows for luxury fashion brands, such as Opening Ceremony and Louis Vuitton.

In September 2018, she reached No. 50 on a major global ranking of female models.

Her turning point as an actor came in 2020, when she transferred from her model agency ESteem Models to Saram Entertainment that mostly manages actors.

Just less than a month after the transfer, she returned to her home country for an audition of "Squid Game" after canceling her schedule for New York Fashion Week. She then snatched her breakout role as the North Korean defector Sae-byeok and left a strong impression on viewers of the show.

As it became a runaway hit, Jung is now the most-followed South Korean actress on Instagram with 23.4 million followers.

In October last year, she was chosen by Louis Vuitton as its new global Maison Ambassador and as a model of Chanel's beauty campaign in January.

She covered Vogue's February 2022 issue, becoming the first Asian to do so in the magazine's 130-year history.

Jung reportedly signed with Creative Artists Agency, one of the largest entertainment agencies in the United States, in November, raising anticipation for her future activities out of her home country. The agency manages big names, such as director Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and Zendaya.

sshim@yna.co.kr
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